Jerome Charyn: Johnny One-Eye

I’ve been letting the kiddo pick my books again.  This time she did a good job – I was looking for some Michael Chabon but instead she pulled Johnny One-Eye off the shelf.

Johnny One-Eye tells the story of the American Revolution in Manhattan through the eye of the eponymous main character, who may or may not be the bastard son of George Washington.  Manhattan fo the time is a city of spies, including Johnny, the “nuns” of Robinson Street (where he was raised until a benefactor got him admitted to King’s College).  In the beginning of the novel Johnny plays both sides, really just looking out for his own best interests but as the war goes on he does take a side.  He runs into any number of important historical figures – George Washington, of course, Benedict Arnold, pretty much all of the British commanders, as well as any number of people who may or may not have actually existed.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable story, based in the broad stream of events of the Revolutionary War but the details are filled in from Charyn’s imagination.  It’s completely plausible, though, which is a lot of what makes it so entertaining.

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